Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Diablo Juniper 22 miles

It looked like it was going to be windy today but it wasn’t bad at all on the Mountain. I have sunburned shoulders and back from spending Father’s Day at the beach and my bib straps were stinging my skin – not pleasant at all.

JB and I, Tiffany, Nicole, Amanda, Peter, and Lois all started together just a little bit early while a big group of Diablo Cyclists were mustering up at the church. Jeff was coming too but he was a little late and missed the early social part of the ride.

About a mile up the road Mark and another guy flew by us like a couple of Lear Jets taking off – I can’t even imagine what it must be to ride like that. Then a few minutes later the lead group of Diablo Cyclists caught up with us so JB, Peter, and I joined up with them and we left the women to ride together at their own pace. By the time we got to the top of the Bump we were down to a gruppetto of seven and then Peter rode away from all of us, proving that he is on another level when it comes to climbing. That left me and the Cadex guy (three weeks in a row now!), a guy named Dave on a classic Paramount with downtube shifters, a Rivendell guy in a Euskaltel jersey, JB, and one other dude. The Cadex guy was riding hard and we soon shed JB and the Euskaltel jersey, then Dave fell back, then I lost contact with Cadex guy and the other dude but kept them in sight. I sensed that Cadex guy was overextending himself just a hair.

With about two miles to go Dave caught up to me and said that if we worked together we could probably catch the Cadex guy - we seemed to be at about the same level of suffering at this point so it sounded like a good idea. With about a mile to go we had Cadex guy and other dude within reach, and they had caught up to a woman rider that both of them seemed to know. Dave looked at me and asked, “You ready?” and I said, “You bet” so we punched it up and caught them with about 1,000 meters to the line. Suddenly another rider with Oakland Yellowjackets shorts came out of nowhere and judging from his speed he could easily have shown us his heels but he apparently knew the other three riders so he joined them and we were a group of six with 800 meters to go. We were all watching each other and then as if this wasn’t exciting enough JB wheels up and passes us all 300 meters from the line, saying something silly like “woo-hoo”.

For a moment I thought about letting him go and I didn’t immediately respond. I could have grabbed his wheel and hung on and out sprinted him at the line. But something deep inside me… some hitherto untapped source of raw power came fomenting to the surface and I rocketed out of the bunch well clear of everyone. It was not a conscious choice, it was instinctive and reactive and it worked… except Yellow Jacket launched his counter attack immediately and opened up a decisive gap in front of me. I didn’t care though, my goal was to beat JB in a long sprint and also to finish ahead of Cadex guy for the first time and I was doing it. Fifty meters from the line I knew I had them. Twenty meters from the line, the Yellow Jacket inexplicably sat up; he must have thought I was no threat but my momentum carried me up even to him just in time for a perfectly executed bike throw and I nipped him with panache.

Then I unclipped at the edge of the parking lot and tried to get some blood back into my head and some air back into my lungs – took more than a minute to regain my senses. That was the most glorious sprint I have ever done. Elapsed time to Junction: 38m52s.

Over the next few minutes the rest of the riders rolled in and there were at least twenty at the Ranger Station. I went back down to sweep up Nicole and Tiffany. Later Jeff, Nicole, Tiffany, and I went up Summit Road to Juniper where Nicole and I turned around. Tiffany wanted to Summit so Jeff went with her.

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